Starting Pitching Advantage: Hurricanes
Miami’s starting pitching, this year, has been its biggest strength. Iden Nazario is 2-0 with 15 strikeouts after not making a single start last year. David Gutierrez has a microscopic 0.75 ERA and is the reigning ACC Pitcher of the Week after his seven shutout innings against UF. Additionally, Miami has not even seen Chris Hernandez yet. On Friday night N.C. State will hand the ball to their ace, junior lefthander Jimmy Gillheeney. He was third-team All-American and first-team All-ACC as a closer last year. Friday’s pitching matchup will be a must watch. Bottom line: N.C. State does not have the depth Miami does.
Bullpen Advantage: Hurricanes
The dynamic duo of Taylor Wulf and Kyle Bellamy is as solid as one can get. N.C. State does not have a definitive closer. They have a closer by committee, as Jimmy Gillheeney moved from closer to starter this year. Bellamy proved Saturday afternoon against the Gators why he is the best closer in college baseball, after he worked out of a first and third jam to preserve the series victory.
Infield Advantage: Wolfpack
Each team has a junior college transfer from Texas in their infield. N.C. State has Kyle Wilson, and Miami has Scott Lawson. The Wolfpack have a veteran infield made up of juniors and seniors. Wolfpack second baseman Dallas Poulk is a three-year starter at second base and has good range. Ryan Jackson is smooth defensively for Miami, but Jason Hagerty and Harold Martinez are still adjusting to new positions.
Outfield Advantage: Even
There is too much unpredictability here for the Canes, while the Wolfpack only have one real star. No one knows if Jonathan Weislow is going to come back to earth or if Dave DiNatale can keep up his tear at the plate. Weislow came into the season with eight RBIs, eight runs scored and zero home runs in his Hurricane career. In eight games thus far, he has seven RBIs, seven runs scored and two home runs. DiNatale leads the team in hitting, but N.C. State has dominant right fielder Drew Poulk. Six of his 11 hits of gone for extra bases.
Coaching Advantage: Hurricanes
Jim Morris has taken Miami to the College World Series 11 of 15 times since he has been at the helm at Miami. He is a college baseball icon. N.C. State head coach Elliott Avent is in his 13th year making the lineup card for the Wolfpack. They have made the NCAA field of 64 six straight years and hosted a regional for the first time in school history last year. But Avent is no Morris.
Intangibles Advantage: Even
Miami is 19-10 all-time against N.C. State but are just 7-6 in their last 13 meetings. Miami is in the midst of playing 12 games in 16 days. The Wolfpack play a doubleheader Wednesday before taking on the Canes Friday. Both teams will be looking for their starters to go deep in games.